Remember how I said you could save those asparagus stalks from Thursday’s pizza recipe for something else? Well, here’s the something else! This asparagus soup has a richness reminiscent of potato leek soup, but with delicate asparagus notes and a delightful brightness from the preserved lemon. (While I usually advocate playing with recipes, I definitely don’t recommend leaving the preserved lemon out of this one, because its brightness really brings the soup together.)
The parmesan pumpkin seed crackers on top are absolutely addictive, and incredibly simple. Just one request: please use freshly grated good-quality parmesan to make them! The powdered green stuff in a tube just isn’t the same.
Asparagus Soup with Preserved Lemon, Crème Fraîche, Black Garlic Oil, and Parmesan and Pumpkin Seed Crackers
- about 1 pound asparagus (tough lower stalks removed)
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken, if you’re not vegetarian)
- 2 cups very loosely packed grated parmesan
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1 cup crème fraîche
- 2 to 3 tablespoons black garlic oil
- about half of a preserved lemon
Roast the asparagus:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Toss the 1 pound of asparagus with enough olive oil to generously coat, along with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until tender and bright green, 15-20 minutes.
Start the soup:
- While the asparagus roasts, slice the onion and mince the 4 garlic cloves.
- Sauté the onion in a large pot with a bit of oil and a generous pinch of salt until it turns translucent and begins to leave brown bits (fond) in the pan.
- Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
Add the asparagus to the soup:
- Add the roasted asparagus to the pan, then add 1 cup of broth to deglaze the pan.
- Reduce until the pan is close to dry again, then add the remaining 3 cups of broth and simmer for 15 minutes or until the asparagus is very tender.
Make the parmesan and pumpkin seed chips:
- As the asparagus soup simmers, put a clean sheet of parchment paper on the baking sheet.
- Make 8 rectangles of parmesan on the baking sheet, each about 1” by 3” and using about two tablespoons of parmesan.
- Divide the 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds evenly among the parmesan rectangles, making sure they’re spread out evenly and all laying flat.
- Arrange the remaining parmesan evenly over the existing stacks, again using about two tablespoons of very loosely packed parmesan on each.
- Bake the parmesan pumpkin seed chips at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 5 minutes, until melted and very lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Finish the soup:
- Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool briefly, then transfer into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. (Note: for a very smooth soup, you can run it through a fine strainer at this point.)
- Put the soup back in the pot and add the 1 1/2 cups of cream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (depending on how salty your broth was, you may or may not need to add more).
- Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes, taste and adjust again, and remove from the heat.
Plate the soup:
- Ladle a serving of soup into a bowl. Drizzle with crème fraîche and add small drops of black garlic oil.
- Finely mince the preserved lemon rind (remove and discard the flesh) and sprinkle about half a teaspoon of it evenly over each bowl of soup. (You may want to add more!)
- Serve each bowl with a parmesan and pumpkin seed chip.